Global Marketing and Online Business Practices of M&S


Global marketing is the process of conceptualizing and then conveying final product or services worldwide with the aim to reach international marketing community. It is marketing on worldwide scale reconciling or taking commercial advantage of global operational differences, similarities and opportunities to meet the global objectives (Gillespie and Hennessey, 2010). Business practice means a method, procedure, process or rule followed by a company in pursuit of its objectives. Online business practices is the conduct of these business processes on the internet. Mark & Spencer is a major British multinational retailer. It was founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thoma Spencer and has its headquarters in Westminster, London. The present report provides a critical appraisal of global marketing and online business practices of Mark and Spencer. Further, it also explains global marketing strategies and impact of culture on such strategies. Lastly, it explains global ethics, pricing strategies and developing distribution channels and logistics in the global marketplace.

Global marketing theories and strategic analysis

The internet, e-commerce, digital communication, and information transparency have led to an increasingly mobile workforce, more informative customers and rapidly changing technologies and business models. As a result, M&S choose global marketing strategy to enable it to win market share and capture and retain current and prospective customers. M&S has a long history of international expansion (Dumitrescu and Vinerean, 2010). It makes use of diverse types of entry modes worldwide which combined of entry strategies from organic growth, joint venture, and franchise agreements to partly or wholly-owned subsidiaries. M&S is a trustworthy brand which is demonstrated by its quality, fit, and service which are reliable and consistent. M&S has 327 stores overseas in 41 territories.

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M&S has great opportunities to enter large markets such as India, China and Europe where there is already demand for its brand. Concentration in one particular market and then moving to another area proves better positioning and marketing for the product. M&S can change its marketing style from product driven to market driven. Marks and Spencer can utilize various types of modes of entry around the world. Marks and Spencer can open its own stores around the world or through expanding the business through franchise agreements. Marks and Spencer has its own stores in Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Hong-Kong, Ireland, Spain and Netherlands. Marks and Spencer have the Franchise agreement with developing countries such as Bermuda, Canary Islands, The Bahamas, The Czech republic and Israel.

PESTLE Analyis

The Political, Economical, Sociological, Technological and Environmental factors that affect Marks & Spencer are explained below -

Political factors : M&S has to abide by regulations set by the government such as Health & Safety British Standards like planning for hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control (Hirt and Willmott, 2014). For example- the political factors of China will impact the global strategies of M&S at the time of expanding its business in China.

Economical factors : Currently the economic outlook is very uncertain and this is more than likely to affect retail sales. The company has to consider economic policies of China and its impact on the global marketing strategies.

Sociological factors : The sociological factors plays a major role in global marketing. Before expanding the business, company needs to understand the society, its culture and taste and preferences of potential customers.

Technological factors : Technology plays a vital role in retail market. Mark and Spencer spend huge amounts on advertising to create brand awareness and to build preference and loyalty. Different modes of advertising should be adopted for different markets to attract more customers of that region.

Legal factors : Legislations are always changing. Marks and Spencer carry out re-training & update every year and keep up to date with new laws or legislations (Kian Chong, Shafaghi and Leing Tan, 2010). The laws and statutory requirements of different countries are considered at the time of expansion. For example – if the tax rates in China is high, it will be unfavourable for the company and vice-versa.

Environmental factors : All companies, industries and organizations are being pressured to change their ways when it comes to the materials used by them and the way of manufacturing. Marks & Spencer have established their own Green Policy. Different countries have different environmental factors which are required to be considered.

Buyer Behaviour

The core function of global marketing is to understand customers and satisfy their needs, wants and desires. Consumer behaviours encompasses all the aspects of purchase, utility and disposal of products and services. Social, cultural, individual and emotional forces play a big part in defining consumer buying behaviour. Cultural, sub-culture and social class play an important in finalizing consumer behaviour. M&S needs to understand consumer behaviour in different countries to satisfy their needs and create a good brand image.

Standardisation v/s Adaptation

According to Jain, 1989 and Levitt, 1983, who are supporters of standardisation, believe that there is a union of cultures with similar environmental and customer demand around the globe (Kowalkowski, Kindström and Brehmer, 2011). They argue that trade barriers are getting lower and that technological advances are displaying a global orientation in their strategy. They contended that creating one global strategy and standardizing the marketing mix elements can achieve consistency with customers as well as lower the costs of M&S. On the other hand, supporters of the international adaptation approach, emphasize the importance of customization. They argued that when entering a foreign market, one must consider environmental factors and constrains such as language, climate, race, occupations, education, taste, different laws, cultures, and societies (Czinkota and Ronkainen, 1998). According to Vrontis and Thrassou supporters of this approach believe that “multinational companies should have to find out how they must adjust an entire marketing strategy and, including decisions regarding sell and distribution in order to fit new market demands.” It is important to alter the marketing mixed and marketing strategy to suit local tastes, meet special market needs and consumers non-identical requirements.

M&S uses adaptation strategy which enables the company to understand tastes, preferences and demands of customers in different countries and ensures customer satisfaction. This is result in customer loyalty, long-term customer relations and build an excellent local image.

Impact of culture in global marketing

Culture is the way of doing things and every country and region has its different culture. It is a unique entity and it acts as a fingerprint showing a particular identity to a group of people in the society. It consists of attitudes, beliefs, values, language and religion (Global Business Ethics Guide. 2016). It also consists of music and art, food, housing and product preferences. Culture is learned behaviour that has been passed down with time. Culture is a variable in international marketing and is very difficult to isolate and put into position. It can influence business in various ways. M&S can face various challenges like language problems, pricing difficulties and culture collisions. For example – Chinese culture is based on Confucian Pragmatism with an emphasis on harmonious social order focusing the material world while Indian culture is woven around Brahmanism which is centered around a higher value on inner spirituality. The company must be able to handle these difficulties. Before entering the foreign country, personnel should be informed about the manners and customs in that new culture. Respecting and understanding new culture is extremely helpful for M&S as it enables to gain respect and trust easily and competitive advantage can arise.

Implementing global marketing strategies & Global business ethics

All the plans and strategies must be implemented smoothly and adjust according to the changes of the market as per need of time. An effective implementation is always superior to a great strategy. Without effective implementation and carry out of its strategy, a company can never succeed. The strategy should also keep pace with the newly developed technologies, the changes of market environment of a specific country or region. Looking squarely at the alteration of customer's needs is the most important thing (Lilien and Grewal, 2010). The company can use the market knowledge and power to tackle all the difficulties and successfully entering a new market and survive in this way only. Marks and Spencer is in gaining momentum in internationalization which help the company seek new markets. This will reduce dependency on UK economic cycles.

Marks & Spencer has codes of conduct for its business which are practised at both local and global level. It sets out plans to become most sustainable retailer. The company launched Plan A which covers over 180 specific commitments to tackle social and environmental issues which ensured 50% of food, home and clothing items across 36000 lines. The company encourages its suppliers to put best practice in place. It also encourages suppliers to introduce their own social programmes. It will work with clothing suppliers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India to agree a fair, living wage for workers.

Segmentation, targetting, positioning and branding

Market Segmentation is defined as the process of splitting customers in a market into different groups within which customers share similar level of interests in the same or comparable set of needs satisfied by a distinct marketing proposition (Mithas, Tafti and Mitchell, 2013). M&S have segmented markets according to demographic, geographic, psycho-graphic and behavioural segments. The company has geographic segment is UK but they also have 337 stores in 41 international territories. It mainly has the mega stores all over different countries but there is lack of concentration on splitting the customers according to the area of interest. It has also segmented markets demographically to ensure that the customers of different age groups, social class, ethnic groups and different gender can buy the company's products. After identifying market segments, it is important to decide which market to be entered, it is known as targetting. M&S can target to enter large markets such as India, China and Europe etc. where there is already a demand for this brand. It can change its marketing style from product driven to market driven which would help the company to understand the regional demand of their products and to cater it accordingly (Morgan, Pritchard and Pride, 2011). Rather than opening their own store, it can opt for franchising.

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Choosing the appropriate franchisee will improve market capturing and sales in that particular country. E.g. to cater the Indian market M&S has tied up with Reliance group (Royle and Laing, 2014). However, franchising schemes varies from country to country because of social, political and economical factors. Positioning starts with product or service and is concerned with what is created in the minds of targeted customers. M&S must ensure that the needs and wants of targeted customers are translated into a tangible mix of product, price, promotion and distribution. Concentration on brand positioning and brand awareness is been done so that the market is aware of the different products and brands the company is offering. This ensures there is no confusion in the minds of customer related to brands. There can be a possible threat of not accepting a product by different markets or there can be a very low demand for the same. Unlike UK, M&S's overseas do not keep food items and accessories. Thus, there is a huge difference in brand positioning between two or more countries.

Developing product strategy and pricing strategy

Product strategy is the foundation of life cycle of a product and the execution plan for further development. It can be defined as the road map of the product. This strategy is comprised of three parts : vision, mission and initiatives. While forming, product strategy, various factors are to be kept in mind like taste, preference, need and demand of customers, other social factors etc. If the company follows standardisation then, it would offer same quality products with same attributes in whole global market (Wertime and Fenwick, 2011). The main benefits of standardisation are - people can expect the same level of quality of any specific brand anywhere around the world. Standardization also supports positive consumer perceptions of a product. It can prove beneficial for a company which enjoys strong brand identity and a strong reputation. Selling large quantities of the same, non-adapted product and buying components in bulk can reduce the cost-per-unit and gives economies of scale. Following a standardized approach helps companies to focus on a uniformed marketing mix specifically focusing on one single product, leaving enough room for quality improvement. On the contrary, M&S has adopted adaptation for its products, which emphasizes the importance of customization.

The company considers various environmental factors and constraints such as language, climate, race, occupations, education, taste, different laws, cultures, and societies before entering into a foreign market. The company adjust its product strategy in order to fit new market demands. The strategies of M&S are altered to suit local tastes, meet special market needs and consumers non-identical requirements. The company conducts research to know the needs and preferences of customers in different area and take measures to fulfil their demands (Dumitrescu and Vinerean, 2010). The benefits of adopting adaptation is that one unified product lacks uniqueness which allows competitors to gain market share through tailoring their products to meet the need of a specific market/segment. Since different markets have different needs and tastes, by using the standardized approach, M&S can become vulnerable. The adoption of adaptation in product strategy has helped the company in gaining an excellent local image and ensuring long-term customer loyalty.

Pricing strategy refers to method that a company uses to price its products and services. There are various types of pricing strategies such as premium pricing, penetration pricing, price skimming, economic pricing and psychological pricing. M&S uses penetration pricing strategy where the price of the product is initially set low to reach wide fraction of market within stipulated time. This helps the company to capture global markets and customers will switch to the new brand due to low prices.

Scope of digital business and e-commerce

The use of internet and other digital media and technology to support business operations is known as digital business. It is a set of techniques which aims at conversion of visitors to consumers and retain existing potential consumers which maximizes the business through constant interaction and brand building (Zwick and Cayla, 2011). M&S has been implementing a strategy to use technology to improve its overall business – use of predictive analytics to ensure shelves are fully stocked, use of customer engagement methods and radio frequency identification tagging to keep track of merchandise across the business. This helps the business processes as well as enhance customer satisfaction.


The increasing integration of economic resources around the globe, particularly through trade and financial resources is known as globalisation. M&S has expanded its business globally and for this it needs to conduct global strategic analysis. Before expanding the business in global market, it has to consider various factors such as social, political, technological, legal, cultural etc. The company follows adaptation strategy to meet the needs of customers. Also, it is important to take decisions about segmentation, targetting and positioning. The emerging technologies have immense impact on retail business and therefore, M&S should keep a pace with ever changing technology and customer demands.


  • Dumitrescu, L. and Vinerean, S., 2010. The glocal strategy of global brands. Studies in Business and Economics. 5(3). pp.147-155.
  • Gillespie, K. and Hennessey, H. D., 2010. Global marketing. Cengage Learning.
  • Hirt, M. and Willmott, P., 2014. Strategic principles for competing in the digital age. McKinsey Quarterly. 2. pp.93-108.
  • Kian Chong, W., Shafaghi, M. and Leing Tan, B., 2011. Development of a business-to-business critical success factors (B2B CSFs) framework for Chinese SMEs. Marketing Intelligence & Planning. 29(5). pp.517-533.
  • Kowalkowski, C., Kindström, D. and Brehmer, P.O., 2011. Managing industrial service offerings in global business markets. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing. 26(3). pp.181-192.
  • LaValle, S., Hopkins, M. S., Lesser, E., Shockley, R. and Kruschwitz, N., 2010. Analytics: The new path to value. MIT Sloan Management Review. 52(1). pp.1-25.
  • Lilien, G. L. and Grewal, R. eds., 2012. Handbook on business to business marketing. Edward Elgar Publishing.
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